Visiting Scientist Feature: Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera

Three years of planning, and multiple expeditions consisting of sitting in the dark depths of the deep sea for around eight hours, enclosed in a small submersible. It took all these extensive efforts (and more) for Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera to become the first person to photograph and capture footage of the legendary giant squid (Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat, 900 m underwater.

When asked about his feelings upon seeing the giant squid live in front of him for the first time, Dr. Kubodera said that he remembers being really excited while viewing the giant squid in the dark through a camera monitor, and being so eager to see it for himself.

“I really wanted to see it with my own eyes (and not just through the monitor),” he said.

Thus, he asked the pilot of the submersible he was in to switch on its bright lights, despite knowing that there is a risk that the giant squid may be scared off by the lights. However, the squid did not flee, but instead continued to feed on the bait that they used to lure it in, allowing Dr. Kubodera to watch it live for a total of about 23 minutes.

Dr. Kubodera, a zoologist from the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan, is currently here on a research visit to help identify squid beaks that were found in the stomach of our sperm whale. Over the past few days, he has been working with our Mammal Curator, Mr. Marcus Chua, to identify around 1,800 squid beaks.


Dr. Kubodera (left) with Mr. Chua (right) in the LKCNHM research lab. Photo by Tan Heok Hui.

Over the weekend, in conjunction with the launch of our new exhibition “Out of the Water” and book “Whale out of Water”, there will be a public talk by Dr. Kubodera, where he will share his journey towards photographing and filming the giant squid. All seats have been filled as of press time.

The new exhibition features displays and stories on the giant squid, sperm whales as well as other marine creatures. The book “Whale out of Water” documents the journey we took from recovering our sperm whale, to putting her skeleton up for display in the gallery.

We look forward to seeing you here!

We also thank Dr. Kubodera for telling us interesting insights about his giant squid journey, and hope to see him again!

Talk: A Double Bill of Fly Tales by Barbara Ismay and Rudolf Meier Thu 10 Mar 7pm

Free talk on the importance of flies and other insects, and the discovery of insects in Singapore’s mangrove fragments by Dr Barbara Ismay and Prof Rudolf Meier.

Date/time: Thu 10 Mar 2016: 7.00pm
Venue: LKCNHM Learning Lab 2

All are welcomed. Please register (for dinner catering):



Talk: Dr Kae Kawanishi on Tigers, Haze and Our Future on Sat 5 Dec 2015

Dr Kae Kawanishi, a tiger biologist from MYCAT, will be giving a talk about tiger conservation at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum’s Learning Lab on Saturday 5 Dec 2015.

More details about the talk:

Tigers, Haze and Our Future
Talk by Dr Kae Kawanishi of Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT)

5 Dec 2015 Saturday, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Learning Lab
Free talk; all are welcome. Register at:

Talk Synopsis:
The Tiger has captivated our imagination for millennia. Yet, the world has lost 97% of its tiger population in the past century, and there are only about 3,200 animals left in the wild. Saving tigers from imminent extinction requires healthy forests, sustainable development, strong governance, plus citizen action. Come find out about the threats faced by the surviving 300 critically endangered Malayan Tigers and what people living in Singapore are doing to safeguard a critical tiger habitat from poaching and deforestation.

Tigers, Haze and Our Future

Tue 29 Jul 2014: 7.00pm @ SBG Botany Centre – “Singapore’s Overlooked Marine Biodiversity” by Kevin Tilbrook (Wallace Lecture Series)

The Wallace Lecture Series presents Singapore’s Overlooked Marine Biodiversity

Dr Kevin J. Tillbrook FLSSingapore's Overlooked Marine Biodiversity
Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, UK

Tuesday 29 July 2014
7.00pm – 8.30pm
Function Hall, Botany Centre 1
Singapore Botanic Gardens (Tanglin Gate)

RSVP at:


Singapore stands at the gateway to the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, and the Java Sea. At this crossroad, one would expect Singapore to host a mixture of the faunas from the water bodies around it. While this paucity of knowledge is being addressed by the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey, we know that much of the unknown diversity rests with those animals that are often not seen, literally overlooked, or not easily identified by the naked eye. These include the micro-molluscs, tiny crustaceans, nematodes, and the Bryozoa.

The Bryozoa are a phylum of sessile, predominantly marine, filter-feeding invertebrates that occur throughout the world – from the deepest depths to the highest latitudes. Nothing was known about the Singaporean bryozoan diversity until two years ago. Now it is known that over one hundred species occur here (but the fauna is probably in excess of 200 species) and several new endemic bryozoan species are being described. This diversity will be illustrated during the talk, as will the diverse habitats within which they occur. The influence of fouling bryozoan species and their potential for invasion is a concern; several known invasive bryozoan species have already been collected in Singapore.

Speaker’s profile

Dr Tilbrook is an authority on the taxonomy and systematics of the Bryozoa. Internationally recognised as a marine invertebrate systematist, his expertise is on the diversity and biogeography of tropical reef-associated bryozoans from the South Pacific. He has worked on specimens collected from intertidal to deep-sea habitats, and fossil faunas from around the world. Currently, he is a Scientific Associate with London’s Natural History Museum and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. This will be his second time delivering a Wallace Lecture in Singapore.

Wallace Lecture Series

The Wallace Lecture Series was a series of important lectures delivered in the 1960s by well-known biologists in the then University of Malaya. These lectures stimulated discussions and encouraged exploration of new ideas in systematics, ecology and natural heritage. It seemed especially appropriate and timely that this lecture series, named after one of the two discoverers of modern theory of evolution, should be “resurrected” to further research interest and activities in Singapore’s rich biodiversity. This is the seventh Wallace Lecture Series delivered by a Shell Visiting Research Scientist, brought in by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (National University of Singapore), in collaboration with National Biodiversity Centre (National Parks Board) and supported by Shell Singapore.